Cover Image: The Louder I Will Sing

The Louder I Will Sing

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Member Reviews

In 1985, Cherry Groce, mother of six, was shot by an armed policeman following a planned raid. The bullet fragments were shattered into her spine, and she was left paraplegic. Lee Lawrence, her son was 11 at the time, and he lost the vibrant Mum who was always dancing. He also lost his faith in the police, and became her carer, giving up his childhood to care for his beloved Mum. 

In 2011, his Mum died. When a doctor requests a post mortem be carried out, this is the start of a long journey to some kind of justice for her death, as well as the battle of his life. 

Divided into before and after, Lee talks about his experiences of growing up as a young, Black man in Brixton. The uprisings, the community support, the fear and racism he and so many others experienced at the hands of white people, including the police. 

Fighting to get answers he manages to secure legal aid, and representation, and gains access to a report carried out after the shooting. This showed massive failures in communication and intelligence, and the Met eventually accepted they had made fundamental errors that led to an innocent woman being shot. Lee goes on to sit on advisory boards to provide guidance for police forces when dealing with race. He qualifies as a mediator and believes firmly in restorative justice. 

This is an important book, detailing the reality of being Black, and just how much work there is still to be done, especially with the recent case of George Floyd in the U.S. It is exceptionally well written and whilst there is sadness, there is a lack of bitterness which is inspiring. Lee uses his experience to be a force for good, and that is the message that I took from this book. Bad experiences can either make us bitter, or better. A wonderful testament to his mother Cherry, and a man who goes on to live a successful and meaningful life despite real hardship and tragedy.
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It struck me that, at the time of her shooting, Cherry was lying on the ground shouting, “I can’t breathe”.  Words we have, sadly, heard another individual say only a few months ago.  The incident might have been different, as was the country involved; however, it’s clear to see that the underlying issues are pathetically the same.

It’s 35 years since Cherry Groce was shot, and yet as a global society we’re no further along in terms of removing institutional racism.  This book not only looks at Cherry’s family and the impact her shooting, and resultant disability had on them all, but at the wider politics of the time.  It shows how slowly the wheels of justice can move, and how important acknowledging wrongs really is.

This is a well written, and informative read.  If, like me, you had no idea who Cherry Groce was, I strongly suggest you get your hands on this book now.

The Stars
A strong 4 stars.  Lee has done a brilliant job of blending fact with personal memories and opinion, to make this a moving and inspiring read.
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“Sing loudly enough and one day they will hear you”

On 28th September 1985, Lee Lawrence's mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home. The bullet shattered her spine and she never walked again. In the chaos that followed, 11-year-old Lee watched in as the News falsely pronounced his mother dead. In Brixton, already a powder keg because of the deep racism that the community was experiencing, it was the spark needed to trigger two days of rioting that saw buildings brought down by petrol bombs, cars torched and shops looted. For Lee, this lit a flame that would burn for the next 29 years through his legal (and emotional) fight to get the police to be held accountable for their actions and to recognise the irreparable damage they caused to a mother and her family. 

This is one of those books that makes you shocked about events and history left out of the curriculum. Although I had heard of the Brixton ‘riots’ I hadn’t heard of this case and the impact it had. This book was heart-breaking, informative and incredibly interesting and switches between before and after the death of his mother which I really liked. It’s a powerful memoir about growing up in the UK as a young black man, and institutional racism that underlies the police force. Lee’s journey and fight for justice is both inspiring and frustrating because as the reader looking in you can see the injustices that occurred very clearly. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to educate themselves about race.

The Postscript is also a must-read part of the book, as it talks about the evening of 25th May 2020 in Minneapolis where the police responded to a call where the shop assistant claimed a customer had nought a packet of cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. This customer in question was George Floyd. What happened next resulted in a unprecedented global response to police brutality and contributed to the ongoing debate about racism in our society. 

“It’s not enough to think things will just happen: we’ve got to keep applying the pressure to make sure that change is permanent”

Thank you Net Galley and The Little, Brown Book Group UK for allowing me to read this advanced copy!! I will be buying a physical copy!
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I bought this book, not knowing anything about the case.  I can't believe I am 30 and did not know anything about this terrible incident its aftermath!!! I think this history should be taught in schools!!! 
I found this book heartbreaking, and incredibly fascinating.
Hearing about how hard Lee and the Lawrence family had to work in order to get justice for their mother is shocking!!! 
It angered me that this happened at all, and it angered me that I didn't know about the incident in the first place.

I am so pleased I have read this, and I will be recommending this book to everyone!!!
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